250 HISTORY OF WESTERN EDUCATION the analogy from nature may be helpful; but the growth of the soul is on a higher plane than the growth of a bird (to which Comenius most frequently likens it), and consequently the com- parison is bound to break down at the most important point. So, again, there is truth in the idea of a fundamental similarity in all forms of learning, but with the sameness there are also vital differences in the character of sciences, arts and languages which make necessary corresponding differences in the relative methods of instruction. In so far as Comenius is successful in making natural processes models for the art of education, and in allowing for the differences which have to be made in applying a common method to various subjects, it is by reason of what he reads into his theory from bis experience as a teacher. His actual method, in fact, owes quite as much to his practical insight as to his theory. It is the happy product of practice and philosophy, in which philosophy has illumined and guided practice and practice has modified and corrected philosophy. The main points of his educational scheme may be illustrated by a brief account of the four stages of education, as he defines them in the Great Didactic.* His starting-point is the division of that part of life devoted to education into the four periods of infancy, childhood, boyhood, and youth, each lasting six years. Corresponding with these, he advocates the establishment of four institutions: a mother school in every h/>me, a vernacular school in every village, a gymnasium in every city, a university in every kingdom or province. In a preliminary sketch he states the aim of these in psychological terms. In the mother school, he says, should be cultivated the external senses ; in the vernacular school, the internal senses, the imagination and the memory; in the gymnasium, the understanding and the judgment; in the uni- versity, the harmonizing will. But as soon as he comes to details it becomes evident that he has in view something very different from a mere training of faculties, such as this statement might seem to imply, if taken by itself. The task of the mother school is far more than a training of the senses: it is to implant in the child " the rudiments of all the knowledge that we wish to give a human being for the needs of life." Even at his mother's knee the child makes a beginning with all the sciences and arts. Seeing, hearing, tasting, and * Chapters xxvii-aonci.